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(UK) $3B SPED shortfall; kids "left at the mercy of burdened education system"

Aug 23, 2023, Bury Times: JAMES FRITH: SEN must be central to pledge to remove barriers

NW England

You will want to see a specialist. Holidays are a special time for many.

Yet in education, the term special conjures up experiences for too many that are anything but.

If you are a child with special educational needs (SEN) or a parent seeking access to support for that child, the experience will likely be defined by struggle.
Left at the mercy of a burdened education system, exhausted workforce and a lack of special education teachers and resource….
Estimates put the shortfall in resources at £2.4bn [$3B] in England from a government that did half a job and handed it over to towns like ours to make do.

The practical implementation of The 2014 Children's Act has been wholly inadequate. It aimed to empower those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

SEND families talk of their time serving in the "SEND trenches", exhausted by their experiences to access the help they’ve been promised.

Families face an attritional two-year obstacle course of gatekeeping, resistance, assessments, paperwork, appointments, school meetings and interviews with Education Psychologists.

Diagnosis does not mean support will be provided by the school.

Then parents have to brave another round of obstacles to apply for what’s called an EHCP (educational healthcare plan) to get their child much needed support.

When parents appeal the rejection or mishandling of their case for additional support, their success rates in the courts are more than 90 per cent. The system is geared up wrong.

Resource is spent at the legal end of the system instead of providing effective support in the first place.

This needs a fundamental switch around and is where much of the funding can come from.

Specialist support should be woven into every school. Calling something a hub doesn’t cut it.

Children with special needs mustn’t be handed their fate with an impatient school system under pressure to make ends meet…..

We must go further in Bury and across Britain if we are to remove barriers for every child.

Labour has made one of its earliest general election commitments to early years, including universal primary school breakfast clubs….


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